AdAsia 2011: Create acts and not merely ads

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 03, 2011
Day 2 of AdAsia 2011 witnessed an entertaining and educating session with BBDO's Chris Thomas and Simon Bond as they discussed going beyond creating ads, and to create acts that involve consumers to communicate the brand message.

"Fundamental to uncertainty is change and it is important to find how significant the change is," said Chris Thomas, chairman and chief executive officer, BBDO in Asia, West Asia, and Africa, and chairman, Proximity Worldwide before passing the ball to his fellow panellist Simon Bond, Thomas mentioned the changes that took place in his childhood.

Simon Bonds, chief marketing officer, BBDO/Proximity Worldwide, followed suit and described the changes that had taken place in his own childhood.

The session aimed to deconstruct how, in today's multi-dimensional media landscape, advertising messages are evolving into true social movements and acts that can affect and drive positive change.

"It is a completely different world that we are living in because of technology and proliferation of technology," said Bonds.

He believes that the world we live in today is undergoing a social revolution. "We are living through a true social revolution and that revolution is palpable. As advertisers and marketers, we should understand what it feels and its implications," he added.

The session thereafter proceeded with a discussion on 'Acts; Not Ads'.

Prompted by the idea that over the years, the art of advertising has revolved around the creation of the ad which is usually an expertly-crafted message conveyed through traditional media and consumed passively by end-audiences. "We need to create acts, not ads," proclaimed Bond, drawing a similarity between the old yellow pages advertisement and the new one, with the former being a more passive mode, while the new one is more interactive.

Targeted at advertisers, the campaign called the 'Hidden Pizza Restaurant' generated a lot of buzz around it as it involved interaction with consumers, and making them a part of the communication.

"In the new world, brands are no longer defined by 30-sec TV commercials," said Bonds.

Both Bonds and Thomas were of the opinion that marketing messages need to be more participatory, and that consumers themselves can play the important role in communicating a brand's promise.

"The work that drives conversation, content and sharing is the most effective and creative," said Bond.

Thomas felt that word-of-mouth was, and still is the most powerful communication. "Ninety six per cent of consumers listen to what a fellow consumer has to say about a brand," he added.

While talking about how consumers use the media today, Thomas cited the example of his own son watching a match on TV, actively tweeting about the latest developments, continually sending messages on his BlackBerry messenger, and being present on Skype, simultaneously. "Watching television, along with another screen in front of them is how people watch TV today," said Thomas.

This behaviour demonstrated by the consumers also denotes that they are no longer passive acceptors of communication.

The session also had a display of various campaigns that involved consumers as an integral part of the communication. Some of the noteworthy campaigns showcased were Starbuck-Reusable mug campaign, Aviva-Great Wall of education campaign, the much-awarded Walkers-Sandwich campaign, the Philippines-based collecting Pepsi bottles campaign, and the Volkswagen campaign in China, on people's car project.

"It is important to create compelling content" said Thomas, and finally, concluded the session by saying, "We are in the business of making acts not ads."

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